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Author Topic: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild  (Read 9237 times)

Edward Pinniger

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1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« on: June 07, 2008, 02:56:29 PM »

Since my sub chaser build has hit a serious "technical hitch", and may end up as a static display model rather than R/C, I thought I'd post a thread on the other R/C model I'm currently working on. This also has running gear salvaged from a cheap RTR boat, but in this case much more suited to the model I installed it in - it's a single-prop drive with a rudder and runs at a very acceptable scale speed, even with a large prop. I've replaced the prop, prop shaft + tube, and rudder with better-quality commercial parts. 
I've fully tested this model in the water so, barring any unexpected problems (like the model sinking) it should not end up abandoned or relegated to a static model!

This is (or will be) a 1/48 scale model of a late 19th century steam yacht (a largeish, sea-going ship - not a small river steam launch, though I'd like to build one of those too one day!). These are among the most elegant of ship types and are very interesting modelling subjects. I have the old Glencoe 1/120 plastic kit of JP Morgan's "Corsair II", but since becoming interested in R/C ship modelling, I've wanted to build a working steam yacht model in a larger scale.

Building one completely from scratch is currently beyond my skills, and I couldn't afford a commercial kit or ready-made hull (does anyone actually make a kit for a 19th century steam yacht?). But recently, when sorting out in the attic, I discovered an old "scrap" Revell 1/96 plastic model of the clipper ship "Thermopylae", missing the masts and many of the fittings, which I bought a year or so ago. It struck me that with the upper hull cut down and the bow reshaped, a hull like this would make a passable steam yacht, and at approx. 2.5' long the hull would have plenty of room for R/C gear.

Now I (hopefully) had a hull, the next stage was to find a suitable set of plans for a smallish steam yacht (as I wanted to build a model in the region of 1/48 scale, a really large ship like the "Corsair II" was out of the question). I had a look through the book "Salt Water Palaces" - bought last year for a couple of pounds at a book sale, and found some plans (and a photo) for the steam yacht "Maid of Honour" built in 1891.




This ship was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, as the hull shape and length/breadth ratio are fairly close to the cut-down Revell clipper hull, and, at about 115ft long excluding the bowsprit (126'8" long overall), the model could be built in a decent "scale size" - using the 28"-long clipper hull, the model's scale works out at almost exactly 1/48.

The design would have to be adapted a bit to fit both the slightly different hull shape and the requirements of a working R/C model (access hatches) so I decided to build a "freelance" model based on the Maid of Honour, rather than an exact scale replica. Scanned in, enlarged and printed out, the plans + photo from the book would be sufficient reference material along with photos of other steam yachts, both real and model.
Despite the semi-freelance design and the unorthodox source of hull, this is intended to be a proper scale model, not standoff or semi-scale; it will have fully detailed superstructure + fittings, a wood planked deck, and rigging.

The name of the model is a reference to the hull's origin from a Revell "Thermopylae" kit - it's named after another famous ancient battle, the Battle of Actium (which took place in 31 BC during the Roman Civil War) - as a naval battle, this is an appropriate name for a ship, and being short would be easy to fit on the bows + stern of the model!
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 02:59:04 PM »

The first stage in building the model was to acquire the R/C gear. As I'm on a very limited budget, and in any case this was something of an "experimental" project - I wasn't sure if the plastic clipper hull could actually be modified to take R/C gear, and how "seaworthy" it would be even if it could - I didn't want to spend 40+ on the electronics needed, so I went for a bargain-basement, spare-box approach as I did with the hull: a couple of years ago I bought a small RTR motorboat at a car boot sale for a couple of pounds - this was actually my first introduction to R/C model boats. Here's a photo of it:



At a bit less than a foot long, this boat is too small and simple in shape to build anything more interesting out of (though I did originally think of combining it with a Tamiya 1/35 PBR kit)  What it does have is a reasonably good motor and - most importantly - an actual working rudder mechanism, rather than the twin-prop steering more commonly found in RTR boats. This is not a proper "proportional" servo, just a basic three-position lever, but better than nothing! The rudder and prop in the RTR motorboat were both tiny and rather flimsy, so I bought a new, decent-quality brass rudder along with a prop, shaft and tube, total cost about 6.

Now I had everything I needed to attempt building my model, I started work on reshaping the old clipper hull into something resembling a steam yacht. Using a circular saw attachment in a Dremel power tool, firstly I cut down the hull sides to the level of the narrow strake which runs about halfway between the waterline and the top of the bulwarks. Next I sawed off the distinctive knife-edged clipper bow, converting it into a smooth curve more appropriate to a steam yacht. Finally, I removed the moulded-on rudder.
All of this was done without actually making any holes in the hull, but I then realised that, if the new movable rudder was going to go in the same place as the old plastic one, there wasn't any room left for the prop! So I ended up sawing off another chunk of the lower stern, producing a large hole. I covered this over with thick styrene sheet, after gluing it in place with styrene glue and sanding it smooth with the rest of the hull, I put a good layer of epoxy resin glue over the interior surface to ensure it was watertight. The join between the plastic hull halves received the same treatment, particularly at the bows. So far, after a lot of testing, the hull has remained completely watertight.

Here's what the hull looked like after its "plastic surgery" (this also shows the R/C gear installed; I didn't think to take a photo of it beforehand):



Reshaping the hull was a fairly easy job, but putting in the R/C and running gear was a lot more tricky. This was my first attempt at actually installing R/C gear in a model myself; all my previous experience has been with modifying RTR models, so there was a lot of trial-and-error involved. As the electronics are designed to fit into a much smaller hull, I had to replace a number of wires with longer ones, as well as re-solder some weak solder joints.



Installing the prop shaft and rudder was fairly straightforward (the rudder tube and the shaft of the rudder itself needed to be cut down by an inch or so). Both prop shaft and rudder tube are glued in place and sealed with plenty of epoxy glue; I also added a wooden shelf to hold the prop shaft in place. Getting the motor positioned so that its gear meshes with that of the prop shaft was MUCH harder; I installed a wooden shelf for the motor to sit on, at approximately the right height, but only a fraction of a millimetre too far in one direction or the other will make the gears lock up solid, not mesh at all, or mesh at slightly the wrong angle or distance, causing the prop to spin but producing an awful noise and causing wear to the gear teeth. After attempting to glue the motor in place with wooden spacers, and failing, I eventually got it working by attaching the motor with screws + washers, allowing me to adjust the motor's position until it ran OK. It's still rather noisy, but not much more than the average RTR model boat!



The battery pack (holding 6x AAs) was glued in place as close to the middle of the hull as I could get, as this provides most of the ballast for the model; the circuit board is not attached to anything, but is enclosed in a plastic bag with tie to prevent water damage in the event of a leak. Another addition was the aerial, made from a length of electrical wire taped to the inside of the hull; I was mystified (and frustrated) by the receiver intermittently failing, until I realised it needed an aerial! I made the aerial from a length of copper wire taped around the inside of the upper hull, this will eventually be connected to a vertical aerial wire inside the funnel (one of the masts would be even better, but these will be removable on the finished model)

After testing the model out in the bath, it ran surprisingly well, and also steered well; I added some extra ballast (lead sheet duct-taped in place so it can be removed or added to if necessary) to add stability and make it sit lower in the water.
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 03:09:53 PM »

All of the work in the above post was done a couple of months ago; I've only in the last week had the opportunity to test the model thoroughly on the water to check the ballast, trim, manoueverability, etc. Now this is done, I can glue the deck in place and start the "modelling" stage of the build.




I decided to build this model with a proper planked wooden deck (my first attempt at doing this) but the planks still need a rigid base to sit on! I made this out of 1.5mm styrene sheet, cut to shape by tracing around the hull and cutting it out with a few millimetres margin - it would be trimmed + sanded flush with the hull once glued in place.

I then cut out access holes for the battery, motor and rudder mechanism. Once this was done, I drew the outlines of the deckhouses, skylights and other structures, scaled up from the "Maid of Honour" plan, onto the deck, adapting the dimensions in some cases to allow for the access holes in the deck. The most significant changes were the wider engine-house roof structure (covering the access hole for the battery pack) and the hatch + long skylight at the stern, over the rudder arm and pivot, which unfortunately are just a few millimetres higher than the deck (otherwise it wouldn't be necessary to cut a large hole in the aft deck and build a removable skylight to cover it!)

Once all the running gear had been fully tested and the ballast installed, I glued the deck in place with styrene cement, then when set I trimmed it to match the shape of the hull and filled + sanded the hull/deck join. This will be further covered with a strip of styrene once the wood deck is finished. The photos above shows what the model looked like at this stage.


I then added the coamings around the deck access hatches, the forward skylights, and some thin styrene strips marking out the position of the deckhouses to indicate the edge of the deck planking. I also built the removable engine house roof, which can be seen in the photo above.

The aft deckhouse (covering the motor hatch) and aft skylight/companionway and rudder hatch (covering the rudder mechanism) will be also be removable, the forward deckhouse, amidships companionway and forward skylights will be non-removable.

I've now started work on planking the deck, so will post photos of this soon!
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barryfoote

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 03:13:48 PM »

Now that I like....Keep them coming..

barry
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2008, 05:26:30 PM »

Work started on the deck planks:




This is made from approx 2.25mm square strip (not sure of the wood type, maybe basswood - certainly not balsa) in 12cm lengths. I originally tried gluing it in place with PVA wood glue - whilst this glues the planks together effectively, it doesn't adhere well to the plastic deck, and the planks ended up peeling off in a solid block, so I switched to using superglue/CA instead.
When finished, I'll add a margin plank around the edge, sand the whole deck smooth, and give it a couple of coats of enamel varnish. I'll also add a styrene strip along the edge of the deck which will also cover the hull/deck join.

You'll notice that this is not exactly the neatest of planked decks, and the spacing of the plank butts has got rather messed up around the stern! I also have not added margin planks around the superstructure + skylights (these will have a styrene "kick strip" to hide the edge of the planks) and am not going to attempt "joggling" the plank ends into the margin plank around the edge of the deck. However, this is my first ever attempt at building a deck with individual wood planks - so I have tried to keep things fairly simple and have not attempted to get everything perfect; the experience I've gained will hopefully mean I can do better next time.
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2008, 06:16:33 PM »

The planked deck is now complete:




I sanded the whole deck down to get the planks level and smooth the rather rough surface finish of the planks, then added two coats of Winsor & Newton oil-based gloss varnish. After this soaks into the wood it produces a satin/semi-matt finish - not glossy - and a darker orange-yellow tone. Not very accurate for a warship or working vessel, but perfect for a well-maintained steam yacht!
Though the main deck is now complete, more deck planking will be needed later on, for the top of the two deckhouses (the wheel and bridge instruments go on top of the forward deckhouse).

The next stage will be to finish the surface detail on the hull, then paint it. The hull will be painted black, and the deckhouses varnished natural wood (ideally I'd like to actually build these out of wood, but if this proves to be beyond my skills I'll build them from styrene and paint/drybrush them for a wood effect)
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 04:15:48 PM »




Lots more work done in the last few days; I've added the masts + bowsprit, so the model looks rather more like a ship now! I added the masts at this stage of the build - before the superstructure + deck fittings - as drilling + enlarging the necessary holes in the deck was a fairly difficult + messy job and would probably have resulted in accidental damage to any superstructure in place; as it was, I still had to re-plank the deck around the mast locations.


The masts should ideally be made of wood and smoothly tapered, but for structural strength + ease of construction I made them from interlocking copper and brass tube. They should still look good when painted. (Metal masts also mean that I can use one of them as a radio aerial!)


The upper part of the mast is removable, for ease of transportation + storage; the lower, widest part is permanently glued into the hull and extends inside all the way to the hull bottom, I also added a "collar" where it meets the deck to add extra strength. The aft flagstaff is also removable, it fits into a small brass tube which acts as a drain hole in case of leaks. The bowsprit isn't removable, and is glued in place, but again goes all the way into the hull and is bent into an L-shape (the bend being just inside where it passes through the deck) so should have plenty of structural strength; so far it's survived several accidental impacts when working on the model, so it should hopefully stand up to hitting the side of the pond (as the model isn't a very fast runner)



I've also added some structural detail and decoration to the hull, made from Evergreen + Slaters strip. The name (which also appears on the stern) is made from Slaters styrene lettering, and I added some simple scrollwork from copper wire. This will be painted gold on the finished model.

Next job is to paint the hull - black with a white strake at the top, the lower hull will be reddish-brown.
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2008, 05:44:42 PM »

Sorry for the lack of updates, here are some photos of the model in its current condition:







This is a "mock-up" showing very roughly what the finished model will look like - the crew figure gives an idea of scale:


I painted the hull about a week ago. The upper hull is Revell acrylic semi-gloss black, the lower hull is Revell matt Rust. The gilding on the bow + stern decoration was painted with Citadel acrylic Shining Gold. Finally the whole thing was painted with two coats of satin acrylic varnish.

I've put off building the deckhouses so far as I can't decide whether to build them out of actual wood (cutting the panels + strips to shape will be very tricky, but the finished appearance should be worth it) styrene (quick + straightforward, but no matter how carefully painted, washed + drybrushed, doesn't look as much like wood as real wood does!). I will probably try making a test piece out of wood and see how it goes.
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Reade Models

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2008, 08:49:38 PM »


Edward

My apologies if this post disrupts your thread, but I thought you might be interested in the attached photographs?

They are of the 'Brittania' and 'Fairy Queen' both owned by my uncle, Col. George J. M. Ridehalgh, of Fell Foot, Windermere.  Both vessels were built on the Clyde and sailed down to Ulverston where they were partly dismantled and then railed over to Lake Windermere.

Regards

Malcolm

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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2008, 07:03:53 PM »

Thanks for posting the photos! By an odd coincidence I've just finished reading a book on steam boats on Windermere (can't remember the title) - I thought the Britannia was particularly nice, midway in size + appearance between a river/lake launch and a seagoing yacht. Do plans exist for any of these boats?
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Reade Models

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2008, 09:24:02 PM »

Hi Edward

Both of the boats are long gone, I think that some of the bits of the Britannia may still exist in a museum somewhere near Windermere?  As for the plans?  It's anybody's guess, but I imagine the builder's yard on the Clyde has long since gone also?

I only posted the pictures because I saw a lot of similarity between your build, and Col. Ridehalgh's boats.  I think that the Fairy Queen is rather elegant?  One day I hope to scratch build a model of her, hence my interest in your build.  I do have some basic dimensions of her somewhere.

I do have other photographs, one of Col. Ridehalgh's guests on Britannia entertaining the King of Norway, and also the Kaiser.  Another of Britannia firing a salute to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

Col. Ridehalgh owned Fell Foot Park at the bottom end of the lake, now a National Trust property, and my own great grandfather Col. A.L Reade lived in Lakeshore Road, Windermere.  I can imagine the boats being sailed up to Windermere to collect my great grandparents for dinner parties at Fell Foot Park...

Regards, Malcolm



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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2008, 08:34:21 PM »

More additions over the last few days:


I made a new plastic rudder which fits over the existing brass one (it's a "sandwich" of 3 layers of styrene sheet, the central one has a cutout which fits the brass rudder). This gives a more scale appearance and hopefully should also improve manoueverability. The whole thing will later be painted to match the rest of the hull.


The funnel is made from scrap styrene tube - the lower bit is actually a battery housing from a Tamiya Perkasa plastic kit - with detailing from Evergreen strip. The engine house roof which it's glued to will have skylights, hatches, cowl vents etc. added later.


I've decided to build the deckhouses out of wood, as the finished appearance should be worth the extra effort, so first I made shells out of styrene sheet to give them more structural strength (the frames at the corners will also be reinforced with styrene rod). I then cut out the deckhouse sides, doors, beading and panels from very thin plywood sheet using a circular saw. These wood parts have since been painted with "cedar" wood stain to give a varnished teak effect, and will be varnished when the whole assembly is complete.


The large side pieces are glued to the styrene shell with superglue, then the frames, doors etc. are glued in place with ordinary PVA white glue - this gives a very strong + permanent bond when gluing wood parts together, but doesn't work very well at gluing wood to styrene (at least in my experience). In this photo, the aft deckhouse is about half complete, with the corner frames and the beading on the forward wall/bulkhead in place.

The deckhouse are now complete, other than glazing - I'll post some more pics in a day or so once I've taken the photos.
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2008, 07:20:09 PM »

Here are the assembled deckhouses, forward:



and aft.


This is my first attempt at building a model boat superstructure from wood, so it is very far from perfect, but I'm still quite pleased with the finished result - it was definitely worth the extra time and effort involved. Building the deckhouses out of styrene would have been a lot quicker but, however carefully I painted and drybrushed them, they wouldn't look as much like varnished wood as the real thing does!

The "two-tone" effect is just a trick of the light due to the wood grain being in different directions - this shows up far more in a photograph than in real life, particularly in natural light. The finished structures will be satin varnished outside, painted matt black inside, and will have glazing added from clear styrene sheet and door handles from brass domed rivets.


These are the roofs (deckheads in nautical terms) for the deckhouses, complete with "bridge wings" on the forward one. They will be planked in the same way as the main deck, some planks are shown temporarily in place - these aren't glued in yet, this will wait until they are painted.



Here's a couple of views of the model in its current state. The deckhouses are not yet glued in place yet so don't "sit" very neatly. The skylights (forward and aft) will have wood framing + surrounds added later, as will the companionway aft of the engine house roof (not yet built).
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barryfoote

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2008, 08:47:37 PM »

Coming along very nicely. The wooden deckhouses look fine to me. Working in wood is very satisfying ans as it is a natural product, it has it's own little fibles and colour differences that in my opinion, always add to the finished effect.  Keep it up O0
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GaryM

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2008, 01:08:29 AM »

Gives a warm glow in your belly watching it progress!

regards
Gary :)
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2008, 06:03:53 PM »

Thanks for the kind words -  I'll post a few more photos soon, I've now added the wood surrounds for the skylights, the amidships companionway, etc., along with glazing and brass door handles for the deckhouses. Still a lot to do, including all the deck fittings + bridge instruments, but the model is starting to take shape. I'll try and get some photos of it running on the water, too - I haven't tested it since adding the new rudder.

Whilst searching the web for reference images, I found the steam yacht Medea - http://hnsa.org/ships/medea.htm (here's another photo) - which is strikingly similar in appearance to my model, except it's painted white and has bulwarks around the main deck (my model will have railings). It was built in 1904 by Day, Summer & Co of Southampton, and is now preserved in the USA, still in running condition. Interestingly, it served as a naval auxiliary in both world wars (gunboat in WW1, barrage balloon carrier in WW2)
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2008, 06:54:26 PM »

Here's some photos of what I've added over the last couple of weeks. Mostly more "woodwork" in the form of the forward and aft skylights, the amidships companionway, and the planks + edge trim for the upper decks. The deckhouses are also varnished and have glazing + door handles (brass dome-head rivets)







The aft deckhouse is removable (to give access to the motor), the forward one is glued in place. The engine house roof (still missing its skylight + hatches) will be painted dark grey or black, the funnel and masts (and ventilators, when they're added) will be buff/ochre in colour.



The amidships companionway hatch is assembled from the same stained plywood used for the deckhouses.



Finally, here's a photo of a test run on a neighbour's pool (I'll record a video once I've sorted out the transmitter/receiver interference problems!). The waterline is exactly right, as I measured it after ballasting + floating the model!

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2008, 11:16:18 AM »

Round head brass rivets as door knobs-------brilliant------thanks for the tip
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Colin Bishop

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2008, 02:42:36 PM »

Re the photo of the Medea above, here are a couple of my Deans Marine Medea which I am slowly completing between other things. It's a lovely prototype but I have encountered a number of problems with the kit and I have decided to finish it on a freelance basis and call it something else! In this case the deckhouses are built from plasticard as per the kit and the wood effect has been achieved by using two different sheets of Fablon sticky back plastic (shades of Blue Peter!) and then sealing with Ronseal matt polyurethane varnish. It doesn't look too bad.

Colin
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offshore1987

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2008, 03:45:57 PM »

Shocked!!!!!  :D

Just wow, well done  O0
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2008, 06:13:40 PM »

Extremely nice work - definitely a standard of finish to aspire to! I'd forgotten Dean's do a Medea kit, I remember now seeing it in their catalogue a couple of years ago.

I'm thinking of installing bulwarks on my model, although I originally planned to use rails - the stanchions will end up costing quite a bit, and most steam yachts had bulwarks rather than rails anyway. The lack of these is what makes my model look slightly "top-heavy" at the minute, as they reduce the apparent height of the deckhouses when viewed from the side. Getting the shape right at the stern will be the only problem!
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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2008, 08:38:09 PM »

Very very nice Colin
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Colin Bishop

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2008, 09:28:41 PM »

To be perfectly honest I'm not totally happy with the standard of work on this one - up close it's just OK ish. Part of the problem is that it's a kit which constrains what you can do but I think I could have done a bit better with the finish.

Another issue with this model, as I'm sure Edward appreciates, is the need to build the upperworks light. These steam yachts are very fine lined and getting the correct balance of weights for a stable model is never easy.

The bulwarks on Medea are built in. Edward, as you say, bulwarks are the norm on this type of vessel. Your best bet is to use paper templates to take off the sheer of the hull and the complicated curves around the stern. Then make them in thin plywood. As in your case you have got to stick them onto the deck you have a potential problem with making them strong enough. I think your best bet would be to run a length of 1/16th square stripwood along the deckline, rebated in by the thickness of the bulwarks which will give a decent seating. As a second line of defence you could run an external piece of stripwood over the outside of the joint and make it a feature of the hull by painting it in a contrasting colour, say blue or green. On many of these yachts, including Medea, there were no stiffening pieces on the inside of the bulwarks. You could add them but it is a fiddly job and would not add much strength.

At the stern of Medea there is a raised railing due to the "poop" deck section. The suggested method in the kit of reproducing this would have been very flimsy and vulnerable to damage in a working model. It was therefore necessary to reinforce this and I have used plastic covered piano wire securely located into the hull which I hope will absorb any casual knocks. See picture below.

Keep posting on your conversion, it's very interesting and I like the way you have constructed your deckhouses, I would probably have done better to do the same on Medea.

Colin
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Edward Pinniger

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2008, 06:33:13 PM »


Work on the "Actium" has been non-existent over the last few weeks, partly due to being distracted by the 1/200 Sovremenny, but mainly because I couldn't decide what to do about the deck bulwarks!

When I started the model, I intended to build it with railings on the main deck rather than bulwarks - not typical for a steam yacht, but it seemed to me that it'd look OK - but as the model progressed, I became less sure about this; apart from not being very prototypical, the lack of bulwarks made the cabins look rather out of scale with the hull (despite all the dimensions being correct) as it reduced the apparent height of the hull sides. Also, I found I had rather fewer 1/48 brass stanchions in my spares box than I thought - just about enough for the bridge deck, but no more - and buying the several dozen I needed would have cost more than I've spent on all the other materials + parts for the model so far.

However, given that I'd already planked the deck, painted the hull and glued the assembled cabins in place, I really wasn't sure how to go about adding bulwarks without damaging the model, and also wasn't sure how to fix them in place securely (after all the work I put into the deck, I didn't want to cut any of it away).

Yesterday I finally plucked up the courage to attempt building the bulwarks, and after some thought, eventually found a method that worked: I made the main structure of the bulwarks from rather thin (0.5mm) styrene sheet. This is not only easy to bend into shape, but is also thin enough to be glued onto the sides of the hull without sticking out noticeably - so no need to cut away the edges of the deck, as I originally thought I'd have to do. The 0.5mm sheet is rather flimsy on its own, but once the structural ribs are added, has enough strength for a working model.



The bulwark strips are tapered noticeably towards the bow, and slightly less towards the stern. The maximum height - a bit aft of amidships - is about 1.6mm, which only comes up to the waist of a 1/48 figure - this seems rather low, but is about the same as on the Medea. Low bulwarks + narrow decks must have made things rather precarious for any crew on deck in rough seas!

I glued the bulwarks onto the 3mm approx. section of hull above the top strake (painted white). The bulwark strip was now "flush" with the strake as it is the same thickness, so I glued a new, wider strake over the top, covering both the original strake and the seam where it joins the bulwark, and adding structural strength to the join.




The stern bulwark section is made from thicker (1.2mm) sheet, and is angled outwards at the same angle as the flag staff. I wanted to add a wooden seat here, but it would get in the way of the rudder hatch! A very short transverse section was also added at the bow, behind the bowsprit.

I then added the vertical ribs to the inside of the bulwarks, these are made from Evergreen strip about 3mm x 1mm, and are spaced at 3cm intervals. After gluing them to the bulwarks, the bases of the ribs were glued to the deck with superglue. Next I added a 2mm square strip along the top of the bulwark interior, and a 2mm strip of 0.5mm sheet along the top of the outside. Finally, when the glue had set and everything was sanded down flat, I added 2mm x 0.5mm strip along the top of the bulwark to give a neat, flat surface, and when this had set I sanded down the corners to round it off.



I also added scupper port hatches to the outside of the bulwarks, 4 on each side. These are also 0.5mm sheet, with the hinges made from small lengths of thin strip with embossed rivet detail. The lack of holes for the bollards + fairleads (not added yet!) seems odd, but is correct, judging by the Medea and the various steam yacht models on display in the London Science Museum; I assume the low height of the bulwarks made it unneccessary.



The bulwarks are now complete but are unpainted - they will be painted  white inside, and black outside (same as the rest of the hull) with the deck-level strake painted white as before.



I also added the boom to the aft mast, this is made from a length of brass rod. I drilled a hole through the mast (copper tube), glued the boom in place with CA, then added a representation of a parrel from a slice of styrene tube. A functional parrel/joint would have been tricky to make and vulnerable to damage on a working model. The masts also need eyebolts for rigging, platforms for lights, and a bracket for the ship's bell on the main mast; once these are added, they can be painted.

The model is definitely taking shape - but still has a long way to go yet! Deck fittings, bridge instruments, railings and ladders, rigging and many other small details need to be added.
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Roger in France

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Re: 1/48 1890s steam yacht "Actium" semi-scratchbuild
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2008, 06:31:27 AM »

Looking great, Edward. Interesting to read and good photography also. Thanks.

Roger in France.
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